A Condensed History of First United Methodist Church

 

A Condensed History of First United Methodist Church of Victor

 

Methodism in Victor dates back to 1807 when, under the direction of Circuit Riders, seven members banded together. Seven years later, the first Quarterly Conference was held in a barn, and our tiny community was filled with prayer and praise. In love, we opened our hearts and homes to numerous Methodist families who had come many miles by horse and carriage to take part in this occasion.

In 1819, we became a corporation with the title of The Methodist Church of Victor.  We went through several name changes before finally becoming known as the First United Methodist Church of Victor in 1967.

In 1820, we purchased over an acre of land on Main Street for the sum of $40.00 and erected our first church building: a 32' x 45' wooden structure. A small melodeon was our musical instrument and heat was furnished by two large wood burning stoves.

During 1830, the membership which had already grown to 277 leaped to 600 as a revival took place. Later, neighboring societies were being formed and some of our membership left to help start new churches.

In 1837, the house next to the church was pruchased to be used as a parsonage. That house was subsequently sold and removed to make room for our three story brick parsonage which was built in 1875.

In the spring of 1969, work was begun on a larger brick House of Worship which would seat 374 people in its auditorium. Now the meoleon gave way to a pipe organ.  When the steeple which reached 138' into the sky was struck by lightning for the third time in 1919, it was decided to lessen the hazard by removing the spire down to the roof of the tower.

In 1873, the church sheds were rebuilt.  It was here that the horses and carriages were kept during services. By 1927, they were no longer needed and were dismantled and removed to make way for the new Sunday School wing. The new wing was a grand project, but the timing was bad. The Depression was soon to hit, and members who had made pledges in a 10 year payment plan found themselves hard pressed just to survive. Even so, the building debt was reduced at least a little each year until it was finally paid off in 1946 when a Jubilee Debt Cancellation Celebration was held.  We were debt free!

In 1936, we spent a total of $245.75 for a year's worth of heat.  By then, we were heating with coal and the procedure for getting it into the basement went like this: when the hopper car arrived, one man from the church would be notified. He in turn would drive around the parish notifying others who would leave their work and report to the siding of the Lehigh Valley Railroad between Maple Avenue and School Street. They shoveled the coal from the hopper car into the town dump trucks (which were on loan from the town with the understanding that the church would pay the drivers for their time.) The coal was then transported to the church and dumped in the area between the church and the parsonage. It was then shoveled through a window into the church basement by the same men! It would seem that there must have been cause for rejoicing when we converted to fuel oil. During World War II, services were held on Sunday morning and evening as well as once during the week. The Victor Council of Churches was organized and we banded together, holding several Union Protestant services each year with the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches all participating.  Weekly religious education classes were held in the public school with members of the various churches instructing both the churched and the unchurched children.

We purchased the property directly west of the parsonage in 1964. After the removal of a barn and a garage, a second parking lot was constructed. That same year, the need for more space for the Sunday School was met by the building of additional rooms int he basement directly below the sanctuary.

In 1976, we joined the rest of the nation in the celebration of our country's Bicentennial. Parades were held throughout the country on July 4th. A "Circuit Rider" rode in our local parade depicting "Methodism Comes to Victor."

In 1980, the rapidly rising cost of fuel oil posed a real problem. Money had to be borrowed to pay the fuel oil bills.  The following year as fuel costs continued to sky-rocket we took several energy-saving steps, and during the summer of '81 we converted to natural gas for heating the church, parsonage and rental house.

The 200th birthday of Methodism in America was celebrated nation-wide in 1984. Several members of our congregation attended Camp Meeting '84 in Syracuse, sponsored by the Western, Central and Northern New York Conferences. Locally, several special activities took place including a Heritage Music Sunday, a three-act play depicting the early class meetings, a service and lunch honoring those with fifty years of continual membership in the First United Methodist Church of Victor, an informal gathering of long-time members to share some of their favorite memories, and the updating of the church history with the production of a booklet covering the years of 1936-1984.

180 years of Methodist witness in Victor was celebrated in 1987. 50 year members of our church were honored, and an alumni choir was featured during a special worship service in November.

In 1989, a new parsonage was purchased nearby. The church offices were moved to the "old" parsonage, now called the Annex.

An addition connecting the Annex with the church was added in 2004.

A great amount of attention, faith, work, sharing, planning, fellowship, giving, prayer and love has kept this dedicated body of believers going and growing throughout the years. What has made all this possible is God's love for us and our love for God.

 

 

 

 

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